Immigrants, We Get The Job Done!

“Immigrants, we get the job done!”  Hamilton Musical

I remember the first time I walked (rather strolled) into the Orpheum Theater, three years ago to watch the Broadway musical that was taking the nation by storm.  Just three days prior I had had to get surgery to repair the ruptured Achilles I had suffered during a recreational league basketball game. 

My wife had been worried that we would not get to see the Tony award winning play that she had secured tickets for eight months prior.  But there was no way I wanted her to miss out on this event, so I hopped in the vehicle, knee scooter in tow, and suffered silently (well almost silently) through the long (it feels like an eternity when you are recovering from recent surgery) and peculiarly bumpy drive from Reno to San Francisco.

I am happy to Hamilton did not disappoint.  As we were ushered to our seats (they moved us to the wheelchair accessible seating to help accommodate my injury) an excitement filled the air.  The stage and costumes were from a 1776 New York era but there was a modern fresh fill about the ambiance of the forum.  It was a diverse crowd (and cast) filled with folks of all ages, races and creeds.  The first scene begins with the arrival of a fresh 19-year-old, self-proclaimed, “bastard, immigrant, son of a whore,” Alexander Hamilton, the musical’s namesake.  It is a fun awesome journey into the life of Hamilton and history of this country beginning with the American Revolution to exploring his many life trials and various governmental positions.  It was one of the best musicals that I have ever seen (maybe next to only Lion King).

I was reminded of this great show when it was recently released for streaming on Disney +.  It featured the original award-winning cast.  My kids have already watched it a couple of times and they run around the house singing the different songs all of the time!

Of course, U.S. history is not perfect.  We have a legacy of slavery, war and economic disparity that has plagued us in so many ways.  But the structure to continuously work toward forming a more perfect union has always been there.  As such, the U.S. also has a rich immigration heritage that has served this country well.

Unfortunately, the Trump administration recently implemented a directive designed to strip foreign college students of their visas if the courses they take this fall are entirely online, putting this heritage in danger.  Against the backdrop of a global pandemic that has shifted most of the college learning landscape to an online model this seems exceptionally cruel and reckless.  The potential implications are massive.  Regardless of what side of the political aisle one falls on regarding the various forms of immigration, etc. its hard not to see this as a calculated political move to not only force colleges and universities into reopening but also contribute to the anti-immigrant, xenophobic stand that tends to be a hallmark of this administration.

Today we celebrate Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  Upon the release of this directive, they took immediate action to sue the administration to block this directive and prevent their more than 9,000 foreign students enrolled on their campuses from being denied visas. 

Their efforts and decisive action to combat this order should be commended.  Of course, there is some monetary motivation, but it also simply is the right thing today.  It satisfies the elements of our organizational HERO framework on multiple fronts.

When it comes to Hiring (and in this case also enrollment) this action reflects their continuous efforts to not only secure but protect and retain the best talent.  Moreover, they are upholding the Equity criterion as their efforts show a commitment to ensuring that all their students are treated fairly and that the rules, regulations and policies across the board are just. 

Many other colleges and organization are looking to join the legal battle now as well.  We are all experiencing a global pandemic and foreign students through no fault of their own should not have their ability as international students to continue studying and working in the U.S. put in jeopardy.  As Hamilton states in the play, “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  We fought for these ideals we shouldn’t settle for less.”